disease ecology


The Poop Scoop: Using Feces to Track Ebola Infection and Survival in Wild Apes

Posted 29 September 2014 by Anne-Marie Hodge

Prologue: In case you have been completely isolated from the news in recent months, here’s a recap: West Africa (principally Sierra Leone, Liberia, Senegal, Guinea and Nigeria) is experiencing an unprecedentedly wide outbreak of Ebola, and the epidemic continues to snowball with each passing day. Medical treatments in most developed countries could likely contain or limit such an outbreak (we hope), but under-resourced West and Central African countries have not been able to curb the spread of the virus. Historically, the mortality rate... Read more

Does Sloth Fur Fungus Hold the Next “Wonder Drug?”

Posted 28 January 2014 by Anne-Marie Hodge

Throughout human history, humans have included wild animals in their folklore, mythology, and daily vocabulary. Animals with especially distinctive traits have likewise become ensconced in modern popular culture and language. Leonine features are considered striking and sexy, outfoxing someone is a demonstration of cleverness, and it is obnoxious to parrot someone in a conversation. Being slothful is unlikely to gain you any respect. Sloths spend the vast majority of their lives nearly sedentary, moving through the canopy at incremental paces.... Read more

Parasite-Swapping Between Two Introduced Species: The Cane Toad Strikes Again

Posted 10 September 2013 by Anne-Marie Hodge

  Aliens are among us, and they don't have to come in the form of little green humanoids to cause problems. Non-native species create major headaches, whether they are introduced intentionally or arrive at far-flung places as stowaways. These "alien" invasive plants and animals can (and often do) wreak havoc on native species, because local organisms often lack the adaptations to deal with a novel predator and/or competitor to which they've never before been exposed. Entire ecosystems have been disrupted... Read more

Prions Survive Crow Guts

Posted 15 December 2012 by Anne-Marie Hodge

Mad cow disease, kuru, chronic wasting disease—all of these ghastly illnesses are caused by prions--misfolded proteins in the brain, which are more technically known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). Once a prion infection sets in, the results are gruesome. Loss of muscle control, hallucinations, general neurological meltdown . . . the symptoms of prion disorders can lead to truly tragic and painful deaths, all ultimately due to a few key misshapen proteins (see this neat interactive animation for a refresher... Read more